Loanstreet ready to take on bigger rivals
By Goh Thean Eu March 21, 2016
- Plenty of growth opportunities, even in the home loan vertical
- Has developed SaaS offering, believes it can be a game-changer
DESPITE being the underdog in a very competitive space, Loanstreet.com.my cofounder Jared Lim believes there is still plenty of room for his fintech (financial technology) startup to grow.
“There are plenty of opportunities for growth – even for us and all our industry peers in the home loan vertical itself,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Petaling Jaya recently.
One of those ‘industry peers’ is iMoney, which estimates that in developed markets like the United Kingdom, about 5-10% of total home loans originate from price comparison websites. In Malaysia however, that number is as low as 1%.
While such statistics indicate that the pie is growing and should be enough to feed everyone’s appetite, Loanstreet’s journey will be no stroll in the park.
It is competing with a rival with deep pockets, the aforementioned iMoney, which has raised more than US$6 million since its inception.
In contrast, Loanstreet’s only notable funding came from The Star Accelerator Fund. While the details of the funding is confidential, it is public knowledge that the fund has two categories: A pre-seed fund that can go up to RM300,000, and a seed stage fund that can go up to RM1 million. [RM1 = US$0.24 at current rates]
Quiet 2015, SaaS plans for 2016
2015 was a relatively quiet year for Loanstreet, especially given that fintech is now one of the most talked-about spaces in the startup scene.
This was partly because the company made a small but significant pivot: Instead of competing head-on with its rivals, it decided to build a solution to help its target market and to also differentiate itself.
The solution, once it achieves an economy of scale in terms of its user base, could be the driver that transforms Loanstreet from being merely a financial comparison portal, and into a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) player.
Lim (pic) is pumped up about the SaaS offering, describing it as a “potential game-changer.”
He described the scenario of someone wanting to buy a house, speaking to a salesperson. The salesperson may not immediately know the lending criteria, or the chances of securing the loan.
“He or she may not know, on the spot, which banks that the potential buyer should go to in order to have a higher chance of securing a loan,” he said.
“Our solution will help address that,” he added.
Currently, the Loanstreet solution is being used by about over 1,000 real estate agents in Malaysia, Lim claimed.
For now, these agents are using it for free.
“We have received good feedback on the solution. We expect the take-up rate to significantly improve,” he declared.
Loanstreet’s immediate plan is to grow its user base in Malaysia, then penetrate other South-East Asian markets.
“We are looking at one to two countries, we have yet to finalise which ones,” he added.
The company also expects to grow the number of unique visitors to its portal.
“So far this year, we have been averaging around 100,000 unique visitors. By the end of this year, we are looking to double it to 200,000,” said Lim.
To hit this target, Loanstreet will be expanding in terms of product offerings. Recently, the portal introduced deals for credit cards.
“That should bring a good amount of traffic,” he added.
Open to collaboration, partnerships
Loanstreet is also open to partnerships to take the company and its SaaS product to the next level, according to Lim.
“We see the solution to be very useful for real estate agents, and even for property developers. We are ready to work with them if the opportunity arises,” he said.
Lim said the company is also in talks with potential investors.
“Talks are ongoing, nothing concrete has materialised yet. Our main aim is to have an investor that can add value to the company and not just provide money,” he said.
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